Hello all. Am in lovely Philadelphia. So, where were we?
Any chance you see the Blackhawks winning tommorrow night and closing this series out early or is this destined for 6 or 7 games?
Rich; I think the 'Hawks, who've won six straight on the road, have a good shot at sweeping the Sharks in San Jose. I think getting to Nabokov early will rattle him and maybe get the Sharks thinking about all those past playoff disappointments.
I heard that Carter may be back as early as game 3 for the Flyers. Is this true?
Steve; Carter skated for about 15 minutes before practice today but GM Paul Holmgren is still listing as slight the chance of Carter getting into this series. Sounds about right.
as a Philly guy living in the ATL the past 12 years, could it really be the Flyers year? I watch every year, and every year they break my heart? Could this be the year we finally get the Cup on Broad Street? Please say YES!
charlie; I think getting back to the final is a definite possibililty (that's a bold statement with them coming off a 6-0 pounding of the Habs in Game 1, no?) but I still think they'll be over-matched especially by Chicago but getting there will be the first hurdle and I think that's going to happen.
I know it's only one game and this has happened to the Habs before in the playoffs numerous times yada yada yada, but what I saw last night was a ton a mismatches. How are the Habs going to overcome the Flyers distinct size advantage? They are doing whatever they want wherever and whenever they want. How does this series last more than 5 games?
Jeff; True, I though last night was the worst overall defeat of the playoffs for the Habs. Worse than blowing the 4-1 lead against Washington in Game 2, worse than the 6-3 drubbing in Game 1 against the Pens. So, they've got to get back to driving the net on Michael Leighton, staying out of the box, taking advantage of the opportunities they were given. Tuesday tells the tale. If they go down 2-0 they are royally cooked.
Scott, would you agree that it would be such a shame if either one of the Eastern teams didn't win the cup? Who are you personally rooting for?
Kenny; Well, it would certainly foul up the Cinderella story lines either Philly or Montreal will carry with them to the final. Honestly, hoping for a good series (how boring is that) and since I picked Philly, and it's always about the media, hope they prevail just to make me look good until my next prediction.
Scott, what gives with all the Russian superstars flocking to Germany for the World Championships the minute their NHL teams are eliminated? Do you think this is some type of bizarro attempt by the players themselves to atone for their bust at the Olympics or coercion out of the Kremlin if they want a spot at the next Olympics in Russia? It seems like Russia is the only big country that has a World Championship roster even close to their Olympic roster.
Jesse; It is interesting to see which players opt to go to the Worlds after the playoffs and which beg off. Especially in an Olympic year it's a tough sell for a lot of hockey nations. But I think in this case for the Russians it's about redeeming themselves after the debacle in Vancouver.
Thoughts on the Backstrom deal? Comparing Ovechkin/Backstrom and Crosby/Malkin from a cap perspective, you save almost $2M which is pretty valuable for adding the complimentary pieces in a cap world.
Jeff; Like a lot of these deals the Caps have invested in term to save money on the cap hit. Makes sense although I am always skeptical of a young player getting that kind of term. Where is the incentive beyond just wanting to be good and to win? It is human nature to work harder when a deadline is at hand (ie. free agency). Taking nothing away from Backstrom who I think is a top-five center in the NHL but it's a lot of money and a lot of term for a young man who has yet to truly accomplish anything. Like any of these contracts it's a roll of the dice and the Caps are hoping they don't crap out with this deal.
Scott, do you think that the Sharks reeling of 45 shots against the Hawks is any cause for concern? I mean I don't even remember the last time the Hawks defense let up that many. (Sharks PP's added some but still) Is there any defensive zone changes that need to happen?
Brian; I think the Habs, 8-3 when they get out-shot, have proven that shot totals don't really matter but rather it's the quality of the chances you are giving up and the sustained pressure a team has over another. Not sure the Sharks dominated the 'Hawks from what I was able to see of the game. Yes, the Sharks got lots of shots/chances but I don't think it foreshadows anything sinister for Chicago.
Somebody in Canada (CBC?) was saying Malkin to Oilers for #1 overall (THall?), a young winger (guy with hyphen?) and Sourey with the added bonus of cap room. Thoughts? Thanks
Baron; Not going to happen. Nice idea though. If I'm Ray Shero and I won a Cup last year and went to the final the year before I don't blow up the barge just yet. I think you go one more year and frankly I think the bigger issue is whether Marc-Andre Fleury can regain the form we saw in the playoffs the last two springs.
People came down pretty hard on Ovechkin and the Caps after their ouster by Montreal. Now that Montreal has done the same thing, along with Crosby's struggles, does that change the perception of the Caps loss and Ovi?
Greg; Sure, I think it does. Although I think the main difference is that the Caps blew a 3-1 series lead which speaks to a maturity and the ability to close out an opponent. It happened last year with the Pens in the second round and then to not get the job done in the first round with that lead is another black mark. The series against the Pens was much closer and while it doesn't mitigate what was an off series for Crosby, Malkin and Fleury I think it's different.
How surprised were you that the Flyers dominated Montreal in game 1? Do you think it will be more of the same in Game 2?
Korken; I was a little shocked, not that the Flyers won, but that they won so handily and the Habs looked so lifeless for much of the game. Game 2 I suspect will be much closer, maybe a little OT, and it wouldn't surprise me to see the Habs sqeak one out as they did against Pittsburgh to change the dynamics of the series.
Philadelphia welcomes you Scott. how do you think the Canadians will be affected the they Flyers physical style of play?
Harry; I feel welcome. And thank you. I'm not so sure it was the Flyers out-hitting the Habs so much (they did but sometimes those hit stats are misleading) but rather they out-worked them. I don't think this is an issue of the Habs being intimidated but out-worked. Sometimes that looks like a team is afraid. I think you'll see more push back from the Habs in Game 2. They'd better or this is going to get over in a hurry.
Who you have playing in the finals? I say Philly versus Chicago with Chicago winning the Cup.
Jason; With my original Cup team prediction on the sidelines (Pittsburgh) I like Chicago to win it all. Imagine the parade along the Miracle Mile? Wow.
If the Sharks do get swept at home and end up losing the series in 4 or 5 games has this season been a success? I guess they beat the Wings, but does getting pushed around in the Conference Finals really mean anything?
Bill; Good question. I think getting to the conference final has to be something of a moral victory and it may save Doug Wilson's job but if they get punted in four or five the Sharks will still invite more questions about their character and I think that's fair.
Scott, the Conference Finals this year remind me of 2002, where the Western Final between Detroit and Colorado felt like the actual Cup finals, as the West was bound to roll whoever came out of the East. Am I missing something or are both Philly and Montreal destined to get beat in 6 or less by the Hawks or Sharks?
Chris; A lot of hockey to be played before the finals but I think Philly with their blue line and the Chris Pronger factor may be enough of a wild card to make me hesitate on annointing the winner of the west final the Cup champ. It's tempting though given the firepower and depth both the Sharks and the 'Hawks bring to the table.
Will the flyers look to upgrade in goal over the summer even if they win the cup?
Steve; Only in Philadelphia - and I mean this in the best possible way - can we be talking about upgrading in goal while the Flyers are seven wins away from a Cup. But it's a fair question - it came up today when we were talking to Michael Leighton - and I wouldn't be surprised if the Flyers took a run at Marty Turco or Carey Price if the Habs decide to unload one of their tenders. Here's hoping Leighton, about whom I'm writing today, gets a shot at keeping this job though.
Who is your pick for Conn Smythe at this point?
Josh; Great question. In order; Jonathan Toews, Jaroslav Halak, Daniel Briere (assuming I can't split the trophy between Brian Boucher and Leighton), Joe Pavelski
Do you think there is any chance the Penguins will resign Gonchar? Also what is the over under on Cammaleri this series in goals?
Brett; It looks more and more like Gonchar will move on unless they can come to a deal that works money-wise and term-wise. It's a tough one for Ray Shero to make work unless Gonchar really takes a home-town discount. But what would that discount cost in term of the deal? Hard one and I think he's gone.
And oh yeah, over/under on Cammalleri in this series?How about five.
There were times that the 'Hawks speed was such an advantage for them, that it appeared the Sharks had a line of dead corpses on the ice - it was a huge mismatch. Do you seen the Sharks being able to go to the slate with power and neutralize the speed issue, for old tymes sake? Hit my lunch bag with your thoughts! Oy vey and good luck!
Buckley; Dead corpses? As opposed to live ones? But your point is well-taken. I think you'll see the Sharks try and do what they did yesterday, keep raining shots down on Niemi and hope to find some cracks. If they get better tending from Nabokov they might still be playing Game 1.
Do you believe that its way too soon to say that it's over when it come to the Habs-Flyers series , like what they did with the Pens after game 1 or when the Caps were up 3-1?
Geoff; No question. Same in the west. Great thing about the playoffs is that one game looks like it suggests clearly how things are going to go, trends and the like, and the next game it's all out the window.
Really Scott? Even with Pronger would you or any analyst really pick Philly to upset the hawks or sharks in the finals? Not think they could possibly upset them but go on record as actually picking them to win.
Josh; I reserve the right to mangle my predictions at the appropriate time but I do think Pronger and the Flyers' blue line will match up well against either western team. I know several colleague who picked Montreal over Pittsburgh simply because they felt, why not?
If Chicago (and Niemi) continue on at this pace and win it all, what tier do you rank Niemi as a goaltender going into next year? Top 10? Top 5?
John; I'd like to see a bigger sample of work before I put him in Top 5 territory. Although with the way Brodeur, Luongo, Fleury played in the post-season just who is in that group right now?
Scott: What to make of Ville Leino's inspired play this postseason? He was a healthy scratch until Jeff Carter went down. Is Leino going to be a top six forward in Philly for years to come, or is he simply an ordinary player rising above his abilities?
Rich; I was thinking about Leino last night and how he was a salary dump by the Wings and here he is out-lasting Detroit and playing a nice role when given the opportunity. Love that about the playoffs. Not sure how this translates into a meaningful position on a pretty deep offensive team next year but it sure makes him more marketable.
Hey Scott, it's the Magnificent Mile, not the Miracle Mile.
Nick; Thanks. Where is the Miracle Mile?
I think the NHL should play its night games at 8:00 instead of 7:00 and here's why.Most people aren't ready to watch a sports game at 7:00. It's too early to "make a night" of watching it. This is particularly true for Friday/Saturday night games. By the time an average hockey fan turns on a game, it's half-way through the second period. Consequently, average viewers miss out on features like pre-game discussions and "backstory" to the game (i.e. rivalry history, player bios, etc.), which are elements that draw in new fans and arguably make the game more enjoyable for existing fans.With an 8:00 game time, dinner will be over and people will be able to relax and truly enjoy the sport in its entirety.And for the naysayers:No, I don't think games will end too late if they start at 8:00. In comparison to other major sports (i.e. baseball and football), NHL games are short. Most games last about two and half hours, whereas football and baseball last three and half to four hours. Pushing the game back an hour will not deter early-birds from attending or watching games. This is a small change which I think will have a big impact on the marketability of the best sport out there. Do you agree?
Matt; Longest question in the history of my chats. Personally I hate 8 p.m. starts. That's what time the games in the finals start. Too late for me but I get why they do it. Growing up Hockey Night in Canada was always on at 8 p.m. If I'm not mistaken they used to join games in progress in the early days but they figured that was the time people would watch. I know different markets have different tastes for start-times. Some like late afternoon weekend games (Phoenix, Anaheim). Depends on the nature of the crowd, traffic issues etc. The Leafs start home games during the week at 7:30 because traffic is so bad people couldn't make a 7 p.m. start.
Miracle Mile is part of Wilshire Blvd. in LA.
Chester; Thank you. I might visit when I'm in town for the draft.
Do you think there will be any repercussions about the fact that the tripping call at the end of the SJ-Chi was given to the wrong player? Versteeg served the penalty but it was Dave Bolland I believe (much better penalty killer) who perpetrated the act.
Steven; No. I would be surprised other than some discussion within the officiating hierarchy. I doubt it would cost a guy a shot at working the finals although you wouldn't want too many of those cropping up.
Hockey Night in Canada used to start at 8? Does it start at 7:00 now simply to accommodate double-header broadcasts?
Chester; I believe so. The finals start at 8 p.m. in an effort to draw in the western audience as much as possible.
Do you see the Flyers keeping Leighton or Boucher as their #1 goalie after this year?
Sam; With all due respect to Boucher I don't see that as his role. Could you have a tandem with Boucher and Leighton? Win a Cup in the next few weeks and I doubt if you'd have much trouble selling that in Philly. Have a feeling though the Flyers will be looking long-term and I'm not sure, again with all due respect to two guys who've been terrific this spring, they fit into that category for this team.
Scott, will we ever go back to the days of having the Stanley Cup playoffs end before June 1st?
Werner; It's one of those things that almost everyone in hockey thinks would be a grand thing but no one has the stomach to make happen. Because that would mean shortening the season and no one, owners or players, will be willing to give away revenue by going from 82 to say 76 even though it would solve a lot of problems and make for a better product.
Both the Bruins and Flyers battled through injuries in a tough, competitive series. The difference really seemed to be Boston's inability to change their game plan and strategy when it became necessary - so is Claude Julien on thin ice?
Lou; I don't think so even though it's a terrible stain on his resume. It would be so with any coach, Scotty Bowman, Dick Irvin, Barry Melrose. But you have to think of the job Julien did in getting his injury-plagued team into the playoffs and through a Buffalo team many thought were a dark horse to go deep in the east. So, no, I think Julien's okay.
Scotty. Now that both Crosby and Ovechkin are out before the CFs, any chance the spotlight gets spread around next year, or are we gonna have those two crammed down our throats again. It's really starting to get tedious hearing the NHL and their TV goons force feed them to us night after night. How about some love for the new guys? Or am I just fantasizing?
Matt; I get how fans of other teams get tired of Ovechkin and Crosby. Not a basketball guy but wonder if folks felt the same way about Magic and Bird or the Lakers. Probably. And I think there's been a lot of love given Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane in Chicago - as there should be - great dynamic players. Will we see more attention paid to guys like Mike Cammalleri and Daniel Briere, maybe, but even with the Caps and Pens losing it doesn't diminish that those players, at least right now, transcend their teams, so I don't think you'll be free of Crosby/Ovechkin story lines and features and games on television.
If the Blackhawks do the unthinkable, what mustache will be more famous... Ditka or the Q-Stache?
Greg; Great question. I'm a Windsor boy - as is Joel Quenneville - I think his might be one for the ages if the 'Hawks pull it off.
What do you make of JVR's play the last two games? Looks like the youngster is beginning to play with some confidence.
Curt; Absolutely, his play on that goal off the draw shows a guy who's not afraid to get his nose in the dirty places. Good for him.
The next coach of the NJ Devils is.........
Jon; Was talking about this today with a Jersey writer. Truly no idea but what about Craig MacTavish?
Okay, have to finish Leighton column. Check in next week. Thanks as always for the time.